Manetti Shrem Art Museum / 2016

ArchitectSO-IL Architects

Executive ArchitectBohlin Cywinski Jackson

The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis houses formal gallery space that is complemented by art-making spaces, classrooms, study areas, outdoor projection walls, and a 15,000 ft2 (1,400 m2) canopy-covered entrance court that invites relaxation. The canopy cladding envelopes the whole project in a grand gesture, shading nearly 70% of the 75,000 ft2 (7000 m2) project site.

During design development, Front developed options capable of meeting the canopy’s numerous design constraints. The cladding was to have high light permeability, free span up to 35 ft (11m), and meet a tight budget. Triangular perforated beams made of mechanically finished marine grade aluminum met the design intent while avoiding costly anodizing. Front’s optimized structural solution uses only 1/8 inch (3mm) thick aluminum with up to 40% open perforation area. Front was also engaged by the facade contractor to create shop drawings, calculations, and fabrication drawings, while providing factory oversight. Front used parametric modeling techniques to auto-generate digital and paper fabrication information for the project’s 910 beams, all with unique offcuts and splice locations. Front’s output was fed directly into the factory’s workflow, which included CNC turret punching, folding, robot welding, and riveting.

Front also developed frameless 14 ft (4.3m) tall, curved, laminated glass walls with integrated glass doors that are selectively deployed around the project for openness and permeability. As Davis, California is subject to large seismic movements, special considerations were required to protect the glass systems. For example, Front created a system for isolating the wall from primary structure movement in certain directions, as well as a special sill glazing channel capable of site correcting panel bow and thus allowing for perfectly flush alignment of glass panels at joints.